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Study: The Most Dangerous Intersections in Allegheny County

Allegheny County has the most motor vehicle collisions of any county in Pennsylvania. In fact, it accounts for roughly 10 percent of all collisions in the state, outranking the more populous Philadelphia County by nearly 700.

Motor vehicle crashes can happen anywhere and anytime, but where are the most dangerous areas for drivers in Allegheny County? Dallas W. Hartman identified intersections and areas  throughout the county where drivers are put at the highest risk of a motor vehicle accident.

With the help of data visualization firm 1Point21 Interactive, we collected and analyzed three full years of Allegheny County crash data (2014-2016). Then, through geospatial processing, identified 787 intersections where five or more crashes occurred.

We found that a very smaller percentage of intersections account for a disproportionately high share of collisions – 41 percent of all intersection related crashes in Allegheny County occurred at one of these 787.

We then narrowed the list down to the 50 most dangerous intersections based on crash volume and injury severity.

The 50 Most Dangerous Intersections in Allegheny County

wdt_ID Rank Road 1 Road 2 Crashes Fatals Injuries CRI Score
1 1 West End Br W Carson St 93 0 32 223
2 2 Mcardle Rd Liberty Bridge 65 1 13 123
3 3 Saw Mill Run Bl Whited/Colerain 36 0 20 114
4 4 West End Br Hwy 65 Offramp 42 0 16 92
5 5 Madison Av E Ohio St 26 0 15 79
6 6 Mosside Bl Lincoln Hwy 10 3 7 75
7 7 Perry Hw Bradford Dr 16 1 11 74
8 8 Mckees Rocks Br Hwy 65 36 0 8 74
9 9 Penn Av 16Th 10 0 14 73
10 10 South Dallas Av Penn Ave 23 0 15 71
Rank Road 1 Road 2 Crashes Fatals Injuries CRI Score

The Crash Risk Index (CRI) is a composite score that takes crash volume and severity into account. Higher CRI values indicate more dangerous intersections.

Most notable areas of concern include:

The West End Bridge: The intersection at West End Bridge and West Carson Street is the most dangerous intersection in Allegheny County. This location scored highest in our analysis due to having the highest number of both crashes and injuries. Looking at the intersection, it’s easy to see why. Several streets and highways merge together to create an expansive and confusing intersection. During the study period, 93 total crashes occurred, resulting in 3 major injuries, 14 moderate injuries, and 15 minor injuries.

The other side of West End Bridge, intersecting with the Highway 65 offramp, is also of great concern – where 42 separate crashes occurred, with 16 injuries reported.

The MCardle Road and Liberty Bridge intersection: Another intersection involving a bridge where 65 crashes occurred, resulting in 1 fatality and 13 injuries.

Saw Mill Run Blvd and Colerain Street: The Saw Mill Run Blvd and Colerain Street intersection had a reported 36 crashes with 20 injuries – the second most injuries and fourth most total crashes.

As expected, the most dangerous areas are found in Pittsburgh.

The county seat and most populous city, Pittsburgh has also been found to be among the worst commutes in the country, with extended rush hours, frequent traffic bottlenecks, and high congestion a common occurrence at all times of the day. The result is a city with one of the highest frequencies of crashes: and our data bears that out – with eight of the top ten all within the municipality of Pittsburgh city.

Interactive Map: The Most Dangerous Places for Allegheny County Drivers

The map below shows where the high crash zones as well as dangerous intersections are located throughout the county.  Larger circle sizes denote intersections with higher crash volumes, while high crash zones are highlighted in pink.

Concentrations of Motor Vehicle Accidents and Dangerous intersections

From 2014-2016, over 15,700 crashes occurred at intersections in Allegheny County. Our analysis highlighted 787 high crash intersections, many of which where nearby each other creating zones with high concentrations of dangerous intersections. These 24 zones, highlighted by two with over 100 crashes each, are nearly all in densely populated areas of Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas.

1. Pittsburgh: West End Bridge Zone – This zone is one of the smallest from the study and contains only three high risk locations – yet 111 crashes occurred within it. It includes the most dangerous location in Allegheny County, West End Bridge and West Carson Street.

2. Downtown Pittsburgh: Mellon Green Zone – This zone in Downtown Pittsburgh, encapsulates Mellon Green Park and stretches from First Avenue all the way to Sixth Avenue. This zone covers the largest amount land area and contains 109 collisions and 13 high risk locations.

Intersection Safety Tips

As our data has shown, intersections can be potentially dangerous for drivers in Allegheny County. Here are some tips to prevent any collisions, and ensure everyone on the road is as safe as possible.

  1. Follow the fundamentals. Adhering to the basic rules of driving can vastly improve your safety in intersection. Always use your turn signals, frequently look at your blind spots, and when you’re slowing down, match the speed of the car ahead of you.
  2. Avoid/minimize distractions. Turn off your phone, turn down the volume of your music, and do not do anything else that may otherwise take your attention off the world. In 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers.
  3. Watch for lights. Brake lights, traffic lights, and crosswalk lights should all be checked before crossing an intersection – especially when make turns at an intersection.
  4. Do not go immediately on green. By waiting a few seconds after a light turns green, you prevent driving into the path of a driver potentially running a red light.
  5. Straighten your wheels and hold the brake while waiting to go. If your wheels are turned, someone who rear-ends you can push you into an even more dangerous situation.

By being constantly aware of your surroundings, you can do your best to ensure a safe trip through an intersection.

Data and Methodology

We analyzed 2014-2016 crash data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, specifically all records marked as intersection related.  These 15,701 records include collisions that occurred at freeway on and off ramps as well as traditional four way intersections.

Groups of dangerous intersections within 250 feet of each other create high risk zones.

More information about methodology and data source are available upon request.

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